(January 14, 2013)
[Please include your first and last names, and your city and state of residence. Thank you.]
French Good Wishes
Hey Mr. d'Aymery:
We have a tradition in France that does not exist in the U.S. Each year on December 31 our president addresses the nation to offer his warm wishes for the New Year. Mr. Hollande, our "me-normal-responsible" president, came on TV and delivered an 8-minute speech. It began with one short sentence about wishing the good people a Happy New Year. Then he proceeded to talk about how grave and serious the situation was in the country. As if we didn't know... For instance, PSA Peugeot Citroën sales are down 17.5% in 2012, Renault down 22.1%. Unemployment has been going up for 19 months in a row. The economic situation is deteriorating so rapidly that no one knows whether it will ever end. Mr. President rehashed a few platitudes about the courageous decisions he has taken regarding employment, competitiveness, job flexibility for businesses but job security for employees (any contradiction there?), and, of course, the lowering of public debt. He showed determination, assertiveness, and confidence. People yawned. Even his tie, as always, did not lie straight.
His credibility is in tatters, his government incompetent, mired by scandal after scandal. The amateurism is evident. At long last he didn't mention Sarkozy, though he did bring up the failures of his "predecessors." With Hollande, a cunning politician, the guilt of our social and economic conditions should be born by past office holders. (I wonder whether he includes Mitterrand, who began our descent into hell.) He has yet to realize that the crises that befall us are not just country-made but the consequences of a worldwide depression. Maybe he will realize the actual situation next December and stop criticizing the past that his present cannot control. Maybe...who cares?
I see that the U.S. has pushed the fiscal cliff a couple of months down the road, but your own financial predicament is burying Swans. Time to take a hike, I would respectfully suggest.
Lastly, the Gérard Depardieu saga does not cease to entertain us. After declaring that he was moving to Belgium, he now has been granted a Russian passport by Vladimir Putin. So, he is becoming a Russian citizen with residence in Belgium, all that to avoid French taxes. Moreover, Brigitte Bardot, the film icon and sex symbol of the 1950's and '60s turned into an animal defender in the '70s and a National Front (Le Pen) advocate in the past few years, is threatening to also get Russian citizenship thanks to her friendship with Vladimir because of two elephants with tuberculosis (transmittable to humans) that may have to be euthanized. She wrote: "I have taken the decision to seek Russian nationality in order to flee this country that is no more than an animal graveyard." France is not simply an economic basket case; it's becoming a laughable zoo.
Paris, France - January 4, 2013
Sad Final Leap on the Golden Gate Bridge: Jonah Raskin's Picking Up The Pieces
To the Editor:
I am Iva Mazurek's niece. I'll never forget the impact on our family. It was 52 years ago tomorrow and the pain is still fresh. She was the eldest daughter and the second of my grandparents' eight children. Raised during Depression years in a rural area, life was not easy and my grandfather was a drinker, which was not uncommon. The siblings were always very close but Iva and her husband settled in San Francisco and had no children while the rest of the siblings were raising families here. The wife of my uncle who was the eldest in the family died that April of polio, leaving four children. She wanted to come home but my uncle felt she might not go back so he declined her offer. A neighbor of hers sent to my Grandmother a letter describing how she changed in the next few months. I believe she became depressed and lonely from being so far from us that it became unbearable for her.
I just want you to know a little of the personal story since Jonah Raskin mentioned her name in his book review. It was reported at the time that she was the 200th person to "leap." I have tried to read the book but it is still too painful.
Lynn A. Hall Waite
Antwerp, New York, USA - December 29, 2012
On the Newtown Tragedy
To the Editor:
Apparently, some student in California was suspended from her school for writing a poem that sympathized with the Sandy Hook school massacre. Myself a poet, also a resident of Connecticut, the state wherein the tragedy in question took place, I have such faith in the power of the word that I am far more sympathetic to the Californian teacher's act of censorship than to her student's irresponsible, if not illegal incantation of further violence.
All that said, only in a world wherein John Ashbery is now considered the canonic American poet of the 20th century is the Sandy Hook massacre imaginable. Ashbery is austerely indirect, i.e., he provides us no direction in life. With Ginsberg, undoubtedly the popular champion I must say, it is different. Ginsberg will say yes or no to things; he, forgive him, judged the world, had an ethics, etc. For example, he did not think most drugs now considered otherwise than medication were "bad," but were rather quite "good." I leave off at this, feigning exhaustion.
New Haven, Connecticut, USA - December 31, 2012
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